When Courage Isn’t Enough


I have not, before today, written about something personal.  But, I feel compelled to do so this morning, and so, I ask your indulgence.

I received a call this week from my aunt in Connecticut (where most of my family still resides).  It wasn’t one of those pleasant ones.   She called to tell me that one of our family members had suddenly and unexpectedly ended his own life.

I had known Alex for 20 years since he married into the family, and was always struck by what I saw as this amazing person with great passion for life.  He was a free spirit, an entrepreneur, and the poster child for “marching to the beat of a different drum.”

He could never work for a conventional employer.  He wasn’t cut from such cloth.   Every time I saw him he had a new dream of success, creating something special using his unique skills.   He had a Ralph Cramden-like innocence and naiveté perhaps, but I was always struck by the positivity of his dreams.    Some may have thought they were “get- rich schemes”.   I saw them as the product of a creative and visionary mind . . . as a product of someone with tremendous self-confidence.   Even when others may have dismissed his ideas as unrealistic, it never seemed to dampen his spirit.  He never seemed to stop imagining what could be.

He found, for a time, his dream realized in the business which he purchased some 6 years ago – a foreign car repair and sales business.   He was ideally suited for his role – to find the “deals” purchase the vehicles for his inventory, while his wife managed the day-to-day business affairs.   The business grew successfully and they employed about 9 people – and things seemed to be working well.

But, as often happens in business, things turned the wrong way, and several business challenges ensued – leaving the company in a precarious state.  Then this summer, when hurricane Irene came to New England dropping 11 inches of her rain, the banks of the small river near their shop overflowed and created a muddy mess.  Apparently a straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

We are all asking ourselves how this could not have been foreseen, how such an imaginative spirit could end up in such a dark place.   I saw him as consistently courageous, and as a visionary.    I cannot imagine ever getting to a place where I felt the world (and my family) would be a better off without me.  It just goes to show how little about life we really understand.  It shows how little we understand about courage which apparently can be taken away.

Alex, I hope and pray you are in a better place today.  We’re surely not.

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3 Comments

Filed under Personal Leadership

3 responses to “When Courage Isn’t Enough

  1. Carrie

    Len,
    I am so very sorry for you and your families loss. I also want to thank you for sharing such a very personal event in your life. Hopefully your sharing this tragic event will find a way to touch all of us who read it and remind us all how very special life is. My thoughts are prayers are with you and your family.

  2. Robin Wagner

    Thank you for sharing. I appreciate being reminded of the balance of tragedies and triumphs in our lives, our friends lives, and our colleagues lives. May God be with you and your family at this time~

  3. JP

    Wow Len, so sorry for his loss from your family-seems to confirm that Courage ebbs and flows in our lives. Great that you were an enCOURAGEment (love this word!) to him and should remind us all to look for the goodness & greatness in each other regularly- let’s keep the encouragement flowing-not ebbing. God gave us community for reasons such as this.

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